Map Of Georgia

Flag Of Georgia

Coat Of Arms

coatofarms
LOCAL NAME Sakartvelo / საქართველო
CAPITAL CITY Tbilisi
TIME ZONE GMT +4
GEOGRAPHIC COORDINATES Latitude of Georgia: 42º00´ North of the Equator ;Longitude of Georgia: 43º30´ East of Greenwich
AREA  69,700 sq km 
Land boundaries: 1814 km
Black Sea coast line: 315 km
Mountain ranges and hills comprise 80% of Georgian territory
COUNTRY CODE GEO
INTERNET TLD GE
CALLING CODE +995; the area code of Tbilisi is 322
CURRENCY Georgian Lari (GEL)
NATIONALITY Georgian(s)
ETHNIC GROUPS Georgian 86.8%, Azeri 6.3%, Armenian 4.5%, other 2.3% (2014 est.)
LANGUAGES Georgian (official) 87.6%, Azeri 6.2%, Armenian 3.9%, Russian 1.2%, other 1% Abkhaz is the official language in Abkhazia (2014 est.)
MAIN RELIGION Orthodox (official) 83.4%, Muslim 10.7%, Armenian Apostolic 2.9%, other 1.2% (includes Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, Yazidi, Protestant, Jewish), none 0.5%, unspecified/no answer 1.2% (2014 est.)
BORDER COUNTRIES Armenia 219 km, Azerbaijan 428 km, Russia 894 km, Turkey 273 km
ELEVATION EXTREMES Lowest point: Black Sea 0 m; Highest point: Mountain Shkhara 5,201 m
POPULATION 4,928,052 (July 2016 est.) 
ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS

3 Levels:

  • The upper level – includes 9 Regions, 2 Autonomous Republics and capital Tbilisi;
  • The middle level – 73 District and the 6 cities which are not under the subordination of the district;
  • The lower level – village, community, small town, town

Everything in Georgia speaks about its greatness and wealth. Georgia is a wonderful cradle of culture, religion and ancient history. Country where everyone can find something to his own mind and interests, a land of endless wonders- Georgia, once experienced, it will be with you forever.

Georgia is a country in Eurasia to the east of the Black Sea, located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of Georgia is Tbilisi. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 km² and its population is almost 4.7 million. Georgia is a unitary, semi-presidential republic, with the government elected through a representative democracy. The landscape is quite varied, with mountains and high peaks (Ushba, Shkhara, Kazbegi, etc.), mountain ranges, hills and low-lying lands. Georgia’s landscape ranges from lowland marsh forests, swamps and temperate rain forests to eternal snows and glaciers, while the eastern part of the country even contains a small segment of semi-arid plains. There are alpine and sub-alpine zones as well. Georgia abounds with small and large rivers. People in Georgia are famous for their distinguished generosity and hospitality.

There are numerous monuments – cult structures of the early Christianity, ancient churches and monasteries hiding in the Caucasian Mountains are silent witnesses to its rich history. The unique landscapes of this part of the world: high mountains, rapid rivers, green meadows, the turquoise sea … eloquently ‘speak’ about the rich nature… The generosity of the inhabitants of Georgia has become in best expressed by the saying “the Georgian hospitality” which implies a noisy cheerful feast with endless toasts and rivers of magnificent Georgian wines. They have exceptionally strong traditions of hospitality, chivalry, and codes of personal honor. They believe that guests come from God. Friendship is prized highest among all the virtues.

Georgia, though a rather small country, has a variety of regions, which differ greatly from each other. Everyone has its own special beauty. They differ in nature, population features, habits and customs.

Existing Fascinating Sites Make Georgia an Ideal Place for Archeologycal Tours.

Dmanisi

Dmanisi (Georgian: დმანისი) is an archaeological site in Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia approximately 93 km southwest of the nation’s capital Tbilisi in the river valley of Mashavera

Extensive archaeological studies began in the area in 1936 and continued in the 1960s. Beyond a rich collection of ancient and medieval artifacts and the ruins of various buildings and structures, unique remains of prehistoric animals and humans have been unearthed. Georgian paleontologist A.Vekua identified some of the animal bones as the teeth of the extinct rhino Dicerorhinus etruscus in 1983. This species dates back presumably to the early Pleistocene epoch.

The discovery of primitive stone tools in 1984 led to increasing interest to the archaeological site.

The main archeological event of the last years is a discovery of remnants of the oldest humans on the territory of Europe (dated as 1.8 million years) by 1996 German-Georgian expedition in Dmanisi. Homo georgicus is a species of hominine that was suggested in 2002 to describe fossil skulls and jaws found in Dmanisi. At first, scientists thought they had found thirty or so skulls belonging to Homo ergaster, but size differences led them to consider erecting a new species, Homo georgicus, which would be a descendant of Homo habilis and an ancestor of Asian Homo erectus. A partial skeleton was discovered in 2001. The fossils are about 1.8 million years old. Implements and animal bones were found alongside the ancient hominine remains.

Located in foothills of the Lesser Caucasus, Dmanisi is also famous for its three-church basilica of Dmanisi, built in the 6th century. The church has preserved frescos of saints and inscriptions. The richly ornamented porch, annexing the church to the west in the 13th century, during the reign of King Lasha-Giorgi, is especially noteworthy. A bell-tower, rectangular in plan, stands to the east of the church, within the confines of the city site. There is a single-nave church of St Marine to the north, ruins of the fortress to the southwest and the dwellings of the ancient humans, to the east.

South Georgia’s early agricultural sites (7th-5th mil BC) are closely related to the ones in Near East, and there is no doubt that those have a connection to the beginning of the so-called ‘Neolithic Revolution’ in the Ancient World. The period is extremely interesting due to the discovery of domesticated grape pipes in Southern Georgia dating from 6th millennium BC. This discovery along with the linguistic evidence has enabled scholars to state that Georgia is the cradle of viticulture and winemaking. Among the cultures of the 4th-3rd millennia BC, the Mtkvari-Araxes culture deserves a particular attention. The earliest sites of this culture (from the Chalcolithic period) come from the central and southern regions of Georgia, whereas in the subsequent Early Bronze Age it spread not only in the Caucasus but also in Eastern Anatolia (Turkey) and further south to Syria and Palestine.

The mid-third millennium in East and South Georgia is marked by the appearance of big burial mounds, the so-called kurgans, showing the already well-established social differentiation in the society. This tradition was continued in Trialeti culture (South Georgia) from the late 3rd until the mid-2nd millennium BC. The ‘royal kurgans’ of this culture yielded the richest grave goods. This field definitely is rich in diversity: in western Georgia there are caverns unique in their layer composition; we have undated cyclonic buildings, fortresses, which are especially abundant on the southern territory, ruins of ancient cities which are only possible to behold through aero-archeology.

People who are interested in the resettlement of Hebrews, the spread of Christianity in Georgia and other similar topics can also find the answers to their questions here. This is a biblical archeology. It is not easy to remain uninterested after finding out that the roads leading to the Trialeti kurgans are identical to the roads leading to the Egyptian pyramids. The gold objects found in such graves demonstrate the intricate granulation technique. Trialeti culture shows close ties with the highly-developed cultures of the ancient world, particularly with the Aegean, which is well documented by both archaeological data and religious beliefs. In addition, the megalithic fortresses of the highland Trialeti recall the Mycenaean ones.

Odzrkhe or Odzrakhe was a historic fortified town on the territories of modern Samtskhe-Javakheti region, southern Georgia. According to medieval Georgian historic tradition, Odzrakhe was founded by the mythic hero Odzrakhos of the Kartlosid line. The ruins of old fortifications are still visible around the site.

Colchis

The Bronze Age relationships between Greece and Georgia were apparently responsible for the emergence of the myth of the Argonauts, who came to Colchis for the Golden Fleece. In ancient geography, Colchis or Kolchis (in Georgian — კოლხეთი, Kolkheti — and in Greek — Κολχίς, kŏl´kĬs) was a nearly triangular ancient Georgian region [1] and kingdom in the Caucasus which played an important role in the ethnic and cultural consolidation of the Georgian nation. [2]

Excavations in the settlement of Tsikheagora (Chocheti District) have revealed three cultural layers dating from the period of the Early Bronze, Late Bronze-Early Iron Periods and the Antiquity. A dwelling plastered with clay (3rd millennium BC), a pagan church, a wine-cellar and other structures have been uncovered.

Now mostly the western part of Georgia, in Greek mythology Colchi, was the home of Aeëtes and Medea and the destination of the Argonauts. The ancient area is represented roughly by the present day Georgian provinces of Samegrelo, Imereti, Guria, Adjara, Svaneti, Racha, Abkhazia, modern Turkey’s Rize Province and parts of Trabzon and Artvin provinces.

Kutaisi (Georgian: ქუთაისი; ancient names: Aea/Aia, Kutatisi, Kutaïssi) is Georgia’s second largest city and the capital of the western region of Imereti.

Kutaisi was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Colchis. Archeological evidence indicates that the city functioned as the capital of the kingdom of Colchis as early as during the 2nd millennium BC. Historians believe that when Apollonius Rhodius was writing about Jason and the Argonauts and their legendary journey to Colchis, Kutaisi/Aia was their final destination and the residence of King Aeëtes.

Vani is a town in Imereti region of western Georgia, at the Sulori River (a tributary of the Rioni River), 41 km southwest from the regional capital Kutaisi.

Systematic archaeological studies carried out in the Vani environs since 1947 revealed the remnants of a rich city of the ancient power of Colchis. The name of this ancient settlement is still unknown but four distinct stages of uninterrupted occupation have been identified. The first phase is dated to the 8th-7th centuries B.C. In this period Vani is presumed to have been a major cultic centre. The second phase – end of the 7th and beginning of the 6th to the first half of the 4th century B.C. – is represented by cultural layers, remains of wooden structures, sacrificial altars cut in the rocky ground, and rich burials. It is assumed that on this stage Vani was the centre of a political-administrative unit of the kingdom of Colchis. The third phase covers the second half of the 4th – first half of the 3rd century B.C. It is represented largely by rich burials, remains of stone structures. To the fourth phase (the 3rd-mid-1st cent. B.C.) belong defensive walls, the so-called small gate, sanctuaries and cultic buildings (temples, altars sacrificial platforms), and the remains of a foundry for casting bronze statues. It is assumed that in the 3rd-1st centuries B.C. Vani was a templar city. According to the archaeological data, the city was destroyed in the mid-1st century B.C. Subsequently, Vani declined to a village and was officially granted a status of a town only in 1981. You may observe some unique pieces of the ancient Colchis in Vani museum, founded in 1985.

Nokalakevi (Georgian: ნოქალაქევი, literally meaning: a place where a town was) is a village and archaeological site in Georgia; particularly, in Senaki, district of Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti region.

Roman and Byzantine historians knew the city as Archaeopolis, but in the later Georgian chronicles it is mentioned as Tsikhegoji, “the fortress of Kuji”, for its eponymous and semi-legendary third-century BC founder.

Archaeological studies have demonstrated that the site was inhabited in the early 1st millennium BC. The settlement grew larger in the 5th-4th centuries BC. The majority of the visible structures were built between the 4th and 8th centuries AD when Archaeopolis functioned as the capital of Lazica. Remains of the original walls of a royal palace, acropolis, rich burials, bathes, and the early Christian churches can be seen running up the mountain and along the cliffs that border the Tekhura River. Rich collections of local and foreign coins found at the site indicate a high level of commercial ties with the neighboring countries, specifically with the Byzantine Empire.

Urbnisi (Georgian: ურბნისი) is a village in Georgia’s Shida Kartli region, in the district of Kareli.

Situated at the Mtkvari River, Urbnisi was an important city in the ancient and early medieval Iberia (as Georgia was known to the Greeks and Romans.) Archaeological studies have demonstrated that the place was inhabited in the 3rd millennium BC. The settlement grew larger and, in the 4th century BC turned into a city with thriving commerce and culture. The ruins of a fortress, rich baths, pagan sanctuaries and even a Jewish temple suggest the importance of the city. Burned structures and round catapult stones indicate that the city may have been under a siege and subsequently invaded in the 3rd century BC. The new era in Urbnisi’s life began with the conversion of Iberia into Christianity. Urbnisi turned into a major center of Georgian Orthodox culture. From the 6th to 7th centuries, a strong system of fortifications was erected around the city that did not prevent, however, the Arab commander Marwan (future Caliph from 744 to 750) from capturing the city in the 730s. As the result of the invasion, Urbnisi declined to a small village. However, the Urbnisi monastery of St Stephen continued to function as a center of Georgian Orthodox diocese.

Regular archeological excavations began here in the middle of 19th century by F. Bayern (Austria). Now different expeditions, mainly at summer time, are operated.

GEOGRAPHY

Georgia, one of the most ancient countries in the world, is situated at the cross-roads of Europe and Asia. About the size of Switzerland or West Virginia, Georgia’s most part is located in the South Caucasus, while a portion of the territory lies in the North Caucasus.

It occupies 69,700 sq. km (26,911 sq. miles) between the Black and Caspian Seas, with a population of about 4.7 million people.

In the north, Georgia has a 723km common border with Russia, specifically with the Northern Caucasus federal district. The following Russian republics/subdivisions – from west to east – border Georgia: Krasnodar Krai, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia – Alania, Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Dagestan. Georgia also shares borders with Azerbaijan (322km) to the south-east, Armenia (164km) to the south, and Turkey (252km) to the south-west.

The Greater Caucasus Range separates Georgia from the North Caucasian Republics of Russia. The southern portion of the country is bounded by the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. The main Caucasus Range is much higher in elevation than the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, with the highest peaks rising more than 5,000 meters (16,400ft) above sea level.

Major rivers: Mtkvari -1364 km; Tergi-623 km; Chorokhi-438 km; Alazani-351 km; Rioni-327km and Enguri-213 km.

Major cities: Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Gori, Rustavi, Poti, Sokhumi, Gagra, Chiatura, Tkibuli, Tskaltubo, Tskhinvali.

Administrative division: Georgia is divided into 9 regions and 2 autonomous republics. The regions are further subdivided into 73 districts.

LANDSCAPE

Georgia is situated on the north edge of subtropical zone and its high mountains, hills, valleys, plateaus, tablelands make very complicated relief. Caucasian highlands, plains, mountains of Minor Caucasus, volcanic mountains of South Georgia are main parts of Georgian relief. By Likchi range Georgia is divided in two parts – west and east.

Caucasian highland consists of great number of mountain ranges, ravines, canyons, hollows and differs from other highlands with continuous unbroken by ravines range. Shkchara (5068 m.), Tetnuldi (4851), Ushba (4700), Jangitau (5058) are highest mountain tops of west Georgia. Kazbegi (5033), Tebulos Mta (4493), Diklos Mta (4285) – are the highest tops of East Georgia. Caucasus range conditionally is divided in three: central, east and west parts. Whole length of central Caucasus is located in Georgia, west and east partly. Plain of Georgia is divided in two parts by Likchi range – Kolkcheti and Iveria plains. Each of them basically is presented with valleys and hills. Mepistskaro (2850), Shaviklde (2850), are the highest tops of Minor Caucasus Range. Shavsheti, Meskcheti, Trialeti, Loqi, Arsiani Range, the mountain assembly of middle Khrami and Samtskche Hollow are consistent parts of Small Caucasus. Wide valleys formed on the high absolute height make Volcanic Mountains of South Georgia different from the other parts of the country relief. Mountain Didi Abuli (3301) is the highest top of this relief. Javakcheti, Tsalka, Gomareti, Dmanisi and Kvemo Kartli plateaus, Erusheti, Nialiskuri, Samsari and Javakcheti ranges are main parts of Volcanic mountains of South Georgia.

The geological constitution, characterized by the precipitation is basically of Mesozoic and Cainozoic eras. According to the wrinkles it is divided into several geotectonic units: from North to South by Caucasian main ring’s Antiklinorium, main Caucasian range, wrinkles system, Georgian Belt, Adjara-Trialeti system, Artvin-Bolnisi Belt and Loc-Karabag’s wrinkled zone.

Georgia is rich by mineral resources: oil, coal, peat, iron, magnum, copper, projectile-zinc, arsenic, mercury, andezit, barite, talc, serpentit, agate, quartz, basalt, granite, diorite, marble, etc.

MINERAL WATERS

There are about 2000 mineral springs in Georgia and 32 health resorts function on the basis of mineral waters. 600 mouths and bore holes are characterized by free educe of carbon dioxide (Carbon dioxide content: 97-100 %.)

Borjomi, Sairme, Nabeglavi, Dzau, Lugela, Skuri sparkling waters are high in mineral content. They are bottled for sale and are widely consumed for their curative and digestive properties. Factories collecting and producing for local and international markets are mostly located in these famous spa towns of the same names.

Georgia is very rich with its inner waters: rivers, lakes, water pools, underground waters and bogs. There are about 25 075 rivers in Georgia, a part of them belongs to the Black Sea basin, and another part to Caspian Sea basin. Mtkvari is the greatest river of Georgia (400 km. length on Georgian territory). It starts from mountains of Turkey and falls into Caspian Sea in the territory of Azerbaijan. Rivers of west Georgia are independently flowing into Black Sea. There are about 860 lakes in Georgia. Ritsa is the deepest lake in the whole Caucasus and Tabatskuri Lake is the biggest in its capacity.

The water of main 12 water pools of Georgia is used for irrigation and power plants: Enguri, Shauri, Tkibuli, Vartsikhe, Algeti, Djinvali etc. 688 glaciers of Georgia are located only in Caucasus main range. Glaciers are well developed in the West Georgia, prolonged from river Bzipi source to Mamisoni mountain path. Main part of Kolkheti valley is covered with bogs. Small ones are located in volcanic mountains of Javakheti.

Georgia is the oldest wine region in the world. Archaeological excavations have uncovered that vine was first cultivated in at least 6000-8000 BC on the territory of Georgia.  From 4000 BC ancient Georgians were burying clay vessels (Qvevri) in which wine was stored and fermented. Qvevris come in every shape and size and this tradition of wine-making is still present in Georgia.

The territory and climate of Georgia are perfect for wine-production, as there are no extreme weather conditions. There are over 400 varieties of vine in Georgia, yet just 38 of them are grown for commercial purposes.

Around 150 million liters of wine are produced every year in Georgia, with 45 000 hectares of vineyards under cultivation. Among the best-known regions of Georgia where wine is created are Kakheti, Kartli, Imereti and Racha-Lechkhumi .

Georgia positions second in grape cultivation in the former Soviet Union countries behind Moldova, and Georgian wines have dependably been the most highly prized in the Soviet space. Nowadays, the wine is produced by a huge number of small farmers (utilizing principally traditional ways of wine-production), and additionally modern wineries, for example, Teliani Valley, Telavis Marani, Tbilvino, Badagoni, House Mukhrani and etc.

In Georgian society and religion vine possesses a central position. It’s very common in Georgia for families to grow their own grapes and produce wine. There is no feast that goes without wine and Tamada – Georgian toastmaster.

UNESCO included the ancient traditional Georgian winemaking method using the Kvevri clay vessels to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

List of Georgian grape varieties:

Red grapes

  • Aladasturi (red)
  • Alexandrouli (Alexandreuli, Alexsandrouli)
  • Alexandria
  • Asuretuli
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Dzvelshava
  • Gibrita
  • Izabella
  • Mtevandidi
  • Mujuretuli
  • Ojaleshi
  • Saperavi
  • Tavkveri
  • Usakhelauri

White grapes

  • Chinuri
  • Khikhvi
  • Krakhuna
  • Manata
  • Mtsvane
  • Rkatsiteli
  • Tetra
  • Tsitska
  • Tsolikauri

CLIMATE

The climate of Georgia is extremely diverse, considering the nation’s small size. There are two main climatic zones, roughly separating Eastern and Western parts of the country. The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range plays an important role in moderating Georgia’s climate and protects the nation from the penetration of colder air masses from the north. The Lesser Caucasus Mountains partially protect the region from the influence of dry and hot air masses from the south as well.

Much of western Georgia lies within the humid subtropical zone with annual precipitation ranging from 1000-4000 mm (39-157 inches). The precipitation tends to be uniformly distributed throughout the year, although the rainfall can be particularly heavy during the autumn months. The climate of the region varies significantly with elevation and while much of the lowland areas of western Georgia are relatively warm throughout the year, the foothills and mountainous areas (including both the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains) experience cool, wet summers and snowy winters (snow cover often exceeds 2 meters in many regions). Adjara is the wettest region of the Caucasus, where the Mt. Mtirala rainforest, on the east of Kobuleti receives around 4500 mm (177 inches) of precipitation per year.

Eastern Georgia has a transitional climate from humid subtropical to continental. The region’s weather patterns are influenced both by dry, Central Asian/Caspian air masses from the east and humid, Black Sea air masses from the west. The penetration of humid air masses from the Black Sea is often blocked by several mountain ranges (Likhi and Meskheti) that separate the eastern and western parts of the nation. Annual precipitation is considerably less than that of western Georgia and ranges from 400-1600 mm. (16-63 inches). The wettest periods generally occur during spring and autumn while winter and summer months tend to be the driest. Much of eastern Georgia experiences hot summers (especially in the low-lying areas) and relatively cold winters. As in the western parts of the nation, elevation plays an important role in eastern Georgia as well, and climatic conditions on 1500 meters (4920 ft.) above the sea level are considerably cooler (even colder than those of the low-lying areas.) The regions that lie above 2000 meters (6560 ft.) above the sea level frequently experience frost even during summer months.

Georgia is unquestionably the birthplace of wine. Grape seeds have been found in Caucasian tombs 8000 years ago, along with wine implements such as clay vessels. Nowhere else in the world is the evidence of viniculture so old.

Indeed the word “wine” is traced to Georgian word “ghvino”, which has been in use for much longer than most modern languages have existed. Probably there is no country where wine is more revered and a wine culture so developed and cherished. There are about 500 indigenous species of grape (most used for wine) far more than anywhere else, most of them still completely unknown to the rest of the world. Here you can taste unique varieties of wine in a vast array of subtle flavor differences.

Nowadays wine is still produced exactly the same way it was before. Grapes are placed in large earthenware vessels called ‘qvevri,’ large enough to fit a person inside, buried in the ground up to their necks. These special wine vaults are then sealed and left to fermentation for three or four months. It makes wine rich on tannin and vitamins, completely organic and distinctively flavorful.

Georgian wine is so pure and untainted by artificial ingredients (such as sulphites), that hangover is practically unknown by those who drink it properly.

Visit any home in the wine-growing region of Kakheti and be greeted at the door by a glass of traditionally made home-produced wine – a tradition dating back at least three thousand years, and a delight to any traveler. Make sure you try homemade white wines, or chacha!

Georgia’s moderate climate and moist air, influenced by the Black Sea, provide the ideal conditions for wine culturing. Names like Saperavi, Mukuzani, Teliani are becoming increasingly familiar to wine connoisseurs around the world. We are more than proud to show off the process that takes these fine grapes from vine to bottle – and then of course, to the table.

We treasure our wine and our wine traditions over all else – and invite you to taste the fruit of our labor for yourself.

Short Wine List:

Rkatsiteli creates a robust white wine, which is full of character.
Mtsvane is popular as a blending partner for Rkatsiteli but also has its own vital qualities.
Saperavi the primary red variety provides vintages, which are powerful and fiery, with an aroma consisting of plums, spices and almonds. In the regions of Kacheti Kindzmarauli, Khvanchkara and Akhasheni it also acquires a naturally cultivated sweetness.

Georgian culture evolved over thousands of years with its foundations in Iberian and Colchian civilizations,[174] continuing into the rise of the unified Georgian Kingdom under the single monarchy of the Bagrationi. Georgian culture enjoyed a golden age and renaissance of classical literature, arts, philosophy, architecture and science in the 11th century.[175]

The Georgian language, and the Classical Georgian literature of the poet Shota Rustaveli, were revived in the 19th century after a long period of turmoil, laying the foundations of the romantics and novelists of the modern era such as Grigol OrbelianiNikoloz BaratashviliIlia ChavchavadzeAkaki TsereteliVazha Pshavela, and many others.[176] Georgian culture was influenced by Classical Greece, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and later by the Russian Empire.

Georgians have their own unique 3 alphabets which according to traditional accounts was invented by King Pharnavaz I of Iberia in 3rd century BC.[177][178]

Georgia is well known for its rich folklore, unique traditional music, theatre, cinema, and art. Georgians are renowned for their love of music, dance, theatre and cinema. In the 20th century there have been notable Georgian painters such as Niko PirosmaniLado GudiashviliElene Akhvlediani; ballet choreographers such as George BalanchineVakhtang Chabukiani, and Nino Ananiashvili; poets such as Galaktion TabidzeLado Asatiani, and Mukhran Machavariani; and theatre and film directors such as Robert Sturua,Tengiz AbuladzeGiorgi Danelia and Otar Ioseliani.

FLORA

In spite of Georgia’s relatively small area, as a result of a variety of geographical and climatic zones the country possesses an unusually diverse flora.

Georgia has 5,000 types of wild vegetation and approximately 8,300 types of cryptogamous vegetation.
The floras of eastern and western parts are quite different, mostly due to the fact that the arid and semi-arid vegetation of the unforested fractions

of eastern Georgia is absent from the densely forested west, where forestation begins at sea level.

Western Georgia is distinguished by four main zones: forest, sub-alpine, alpine and nival. Starting from the sea level, alder and wing nut trees thrive in the swampy Colchian lowlands. In less moist areas ample numbers of oak, chestnut, hornbeam, and liana grow.

Eastern Georgia is divided into six zones: semi-desert dominated by dry steppes and sparse tree growth, forest, sub-alpine, alpine, sub-nival, and nival. The lowlands and

foothills are forested along the Mtkvari, Iori, and Alazani

rivers, with oak, poplar, several types of willows, and occasionally mulberry. The Alazani valley forests are rich with liana. Eastern Georgia’s dry valleys support wormwood and Russian thistle. A little higher, where the climate is more humid, bear grass steppes are dotted with pistachio, juniper, maple, and pomegranate.

FAUNA

Over hundred mammals, 330 birds, 48 reptiles, 11 amphibians, and 160 fish species have been recorded in Georgia. The country’s fauna combines European, Central Asian, and North African elements and includes a large variety of invertebrates: insects, arachnids, myriapods, crustaceans, and worms.

The alpine and sub-alpine zones are populated with two species of wild ox, Daghestanian and Caucasian, both of which are indigenous to the Caucasus.

The birds found in the alpine and forested zones include the Caucasian jackdaw, black grouse, pheasant, pigeon, woodcock, curlew, cuckoo, kingfisher and etc. The rivers are homes to trout, barbell, sazan (a type of carp) and occasionally pike and river perch.

The endangered goitered gazelles, wild boar, roe and other deer roam the lowlands of eastern Georgia. The dwarf shrew (also endangered) lives in Tbilisi area. The Iorian plateau supports a population of partridges and pheasants.

The lowlands of Western Georgia feature extremely diverse fauna. Mammals include the hedgehog, mole shrew, horseshoe bat and various other rodents.

The common and bottle-nosed dolphin and the porpoise populate the Black Sea coast, while its fish includes shark, ray beluga, Russian and Atlantic sturgeon, Black Sea salmon, khamsa, herring, dogfish, flounder, and swordfish.

Georgians have started protecting their rare and indigenous fauna. Game reserves have been opened in Lagodekhi, Borjomi, Saguramo, Ritsa, and Kintrishi.

EARLY HISTORY

Georgia became a kingdom in about 4 B.C. Two Georgian Kingdoms of late antiquity, known to Greece and Rome as Iberia (in the east of the country) and Colchis (in the west), were among the first nations in the region to adopt Christianity (in 337 AD, or in 319 AD as recent research suggests). Colchis is the location of the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts in the Greek myth, which may have derived from the local practice of using fleeces to sift gold dust from rivers. Known to its natives as Egrisi or Lazica, Colchis often saw battles between the rival powers of Persia and the Byzantine Empire, both of which managed to conquer Western Georgia from time to time. As a result, those Kingdoms disintegrated into various feudal regions in the early Middle Ages. This made it easy for Arabs to conquer Georgia in the 7th century. During the reign of Queen Tamara (1184–1213), Georgia’s territories included the whole of Transcaucasia. During the 13th century, Tamerlane and the Mongols decimated its population. From the 16th century on, the country was the scene of a struggle between Persia and Turkey. In the 18th century, it became a vassal to Russia in exchange for protection from the Turks and Persians.

Georgia joined Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1917 to establish the anti-Bolshevik Transcaucasia Federation and on its dissolution in 1918 proclaimed the independence. In 1922, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan were annexed by the USSR and formed into the Transcaucasia Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1936, Georgia became a separate Soviet republic. Under Soviet rule it was transformed from an agrarian country to a largely industrial urban society.

Georgia proclaimed its independence from the USSR on April 9, 1991. In January 1992, the first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was sacked and later accused of dictatorial policies, the jailing of opposition leaders, human rights abuses, and clamping down on the media. A ruling military council was established by the opposition until a civilian authority could be restored. In 1992, Eduard Shevardnadze, the Soviet Union’s foreign minister under Gorbachev, became a president.

In 1992–1993, the government engaged in armed conflict with separatists in the breakaway province of Abkhazia. In 1994, Russia and Georgia signed a cooperation treaty that authorized Russia to keep three military bases in Georgia and allowed Russians to train and equip the Georgian army. In 1996, Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia agreed to cease the hostilities in their six-year conflict. With little progress in resolving the Abkhazia situation, however, parliament in April 1997 voted overwhelmingly to threaten Russia with loss of its military bases, should it fail to extend Russian military control over the separatist region. In 1998, the U.S. and Britain began an operation to remove nuclear material from Georgia, dangerous remains from its Soviet years. A darling of the West since his days as the Soviet Union’s foreign minister, Shevardnadze was viewed far less favorably by his own people, who were frustrated by unemployment, poverty, cronyism, and rampant corruption. In the 2000 presidential elections, Shevardnadze was reelected with 80% of the vote, though international observers determined that the election was marred by irregularities.

In 2002, U.S. troops trained Georgian military in antiterrorist measures thus Georgian troops would be able to subdue Muslim rebels fighting in the country. Tensions between Georgia and Russia were strained over the Pankisi Gorge, a lawless region of Georgia that according to Russia had become a haven for Islamic militants and Chechen rebels.

In May 2003, the constructions began on the Georgian section of the enormously ambitious Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which runs from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey. The pipeline opened in July 2006.

Massive demonstrations began after the preliminary results of the November 2003 parliamentary elections. The opposition party (and international monitors) claimed that the elections were rigged in favor of Shevardnadze and the political parties who supported him. After more than three weeks of massive protests, Shevardnadze resigned on November 30. Georgians compared the turn of events to Czechoslovakia’s “velvet revolution.” In January 2004 presidential elections, Mikhail Saakashvili, the key opposition leader, won in a landslide. The 36-year-old lawyer built his reputation as a reformer committed to end the corruption. During his first two years of presidency Saakashvili made a significant progress in rooting out the country’s endemic corruption. Saakashvili’s ongoing difficulty has been to rein in Georgia’s two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both of which are strongly supported by neighboring Russia.

RECENT HISTORY

Georgia was one of the first Soviet republics to take steps towards independence. This process was accelerated by the events of 9 April 1989, when Soviet Soldiers brutally crushed a peaceful rally in Tbilisi, killing 21 protestors. Elections held on 28 October 1990 put an end to Soviet Georgia. The Round Table – Free Georgia party, headed by former dissident Zviad Gamsakhurdia won a convincing victory. On 31 March 1991, a referendum on the restoration of the country’s independence was overwhelmingly approved. Georgia’s Declaration of Independence was adopted at a session of the Supreme Council on 9 April 1991. On 26 May 1991, the first presidential elections were held. Zviad Gamsakhurdia won 87% of the vote and became the first president of independent Georgia. The events of 9 April had a deep resonance in many republics of the Soviet Union, particularly in the Baltic countries. In 1991 protests were held against Gamsakhurdia, as a result of which a part of the intelligentsia found itself in the opposition. By the end of December 1991, civil war was in full swing in Tbilisi. On 6 January 1992, Zviad Gamsakhurdia and his supporters were expelled from Georgia. For the following two months the country was governed by a so-called ‘Military Council’, whose members were ex-Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua, ex-Minister of Defence Tengiz Kitovani and Jaba Ioseliani, and the head of the Mkhedrioni militia. In March 1992, Eduard Shevardnadze arrived in Georgia from Moscow in order to head up the Military Council. Additional conflicts arose in the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and the Autonomous Region of Southern Ossetia. With the help of certain Russian military divisions and the Confederation of the Peoples of Northern Caucasus, they defeated Georgian forces and became de facto independent. In 1995, the Constitution of Georgia was adopted and presidential and parliamentary elections were held the same year. Eduard Shevardnadze, until then Georgia’s de facto leader was officially elected president, a post he would hold until 23 November 2003. In 1999 parliamentary elections were held again and the ruling Citizens’ Union party was declared the winner. On 2 November 2003, the next parliamentary elections took place and despite widespread falsifications, the Central Election Commission awarded victory to the pro-government bloc For New Georgia. It is for this reason that on 4 November 2003, peaceful protestors took to the streets of Tbilisi demanding that parliamentary elections be held anew. The protests were led by Zurab Zhvania, Mikheil Saakashvili and Nino Burjanadze. On 22 November, during the first sitting of the new parliament, the situation reached its climax. In the morning Freedom Square was already congested with protestors. In the aftermath of that popular movement, which became known as the “Rose Revolution,” new elections in early 2004 swept Mikheil SAAKASHVILI into power along with his United National Movement (UNM) party. Progress on market reforms and democratization has been made in the years since independence, but this progress has been complicated by Russian assistance and support to the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Periodic flare-ups in tension and violence culminated in a five-day conflict in August 2008 between Russia and Georgia, including the invasion of large portions of undisputed Georgian territory. Russian troops pledged to pull back from most occupied Georgian territory, but in late August 2008 Russia unilaterally recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Russian military forces remain in those regions. Billionaire philanthropist Bidzina IVANISHVILI’s unexpected entry into politics in October 2011 brought the divided opposition together under his Georgian Dream coalition, which won a majority of seats in the October 2012 legislative election and removed UNM from power. A new constitution shifting many powers from the president to the prime minister and parliament, including the power to name the prime minister and government ministers, does not go into effect until after a new president is elected in the fall of 2013. Conceding defeat, SAAKASHVILI named IVANISHVILI as prime minister and allowed Georgian Dream to create a new government. Tensions remain high as IVANISHVILI and SAAKASHVILI and their supporters struggle to co-exist until the end of the president’s term.

Presidential elections were held in Georgia on 27 October 2013. The last elections in January 2008 resulted in the re-election of Mikheil Saakashvili for his second and final presidential term. The elections were held under a two-round system. Giorgi Margvelashvili was elected with a majority of votes in the first round.

Following the presidential elections, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who had declared his intention to quit the government, named Irakli Garibashvili as his successor. He and his cabinet won majority of votes in the Parliament of Georgia. Irakli Garibashvili remains Prime minister of Georgia since November, 2013.

GEORGIA AND RUSSIA REACH TRADE AGREEMENT

In November 2011, Georgia and Russia agreed to a Swiss-mediated proposal that allowed for the monitoring of trade flow between the two countries. The agreement would allow Russia to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) by December. Membership to the WTO is based on a consensus; therefore, Russia needed to gain the consent of Georgia. Hostilities between the two countries, including a war in 2008, have kept the two countries from an agreement before now. In return for its consent, Georgia asked for direct trading on its border with Russia.

TRIP PLANNING

** Acquaint yourself with the history and geography of Georgia before you leave home. It will promote a better understanding of Georgians who claim to belong to one of the oldest races of the world.

** Accept the advice of Georgians relative to safe travel in their country. Changes in the former Soviet Republics occur so rapidly that no guide book can stay current with local events.

** Most important is to travel with an open mind and to respect the customs of your hosts – it will add enjoyment to your travel.

** Some churches and monasteries do not allow people in shorts and miniskirts to enter the site, so if you decide to visit churches and monasteries please wear trousers or skirts of moderate length, though women can find in the churches scarves that can be used as skirts.

** In Tbilisi you can find quite many people speaking several foreign languages but in regions you may have some difficulties in communicating people in English or other languages, so we advise you to look through our dictionary that you can find on our web-site in Useful Georgian Phrases.

** The only currency that is accepted everywhere in Georgia is Gel, though some hotels and restaurants accept  US Dollars or EUROS, Credit Cards are accepted in many places.

VISA REQUIREMENTS

Diplomatic, Service and Ordinary Visas:

Diplomatic missions and consular posts of Georgia abroad shall be of multi entries.

Ordinary visa shall be of multi entries. Two types of ordinary VISA are issued by the territorial offices of the Agency: 1. Multiple Ordinary VISA valid for 360 days; 2. Single Ordinary VISA valid trough 90 days.

  • In cases determined by the Georgian legislation visa/entry permit for up 90 days (visa fee 50 GEL) or for 360 days (visa fee 100 GEL) can be issued by the Patrol Police of Georgia (sub-divisional institution of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) at border crossing points situated at the Georgian State Border.
  • The basis for the stay of an alien in Georgia is a visa or residence permit (permanent or temporary) if other is not provided by this law and international treaties of Georgia.

Today most of the population of Georgia practices Orthodox Christianity of the Georgian Orthodox Church:  Greek Orthodoxy 65%; Muslim 11%; Russian Orthodox 10%; Armenian Apostolic 8%; Catholics, Baptists, Jews (6%).

Georgia is one of the oldest Christian countries: it is considered to be an appendage of Holy Virgin. Here Christianity was first preached by the Apostles Andrew and Simon Canaanite. According to the belief, the tomb of the latter is located in Western Georgia, by the Black Sea, in the ancient site of Nicopsia.

In the beginning of the 4th century AD, St. Nino of Cappadocia brought Christianity to Georgia. In the 30s (328) of the 4thcentury (337) during the reign of King Mirian the Christianity was declared the official religion.

Georgian Orthodox Church gained its autocephaly in the 5th century during the reign of Vakhtang Gorgasali. The Bible was also translated in Georgian in the 5th century. From around the 6th century the Church of Egrisi (Lasika) was headed by a metropolitan whose see was in Phases; he was a hierarch subordinated to the Patriarch of Constantinople.

In the latter half of the 9th century, the West Georgian Church broke away from the Constantinople and placed itself under the Catholicon with the see in Mtskheta. The Catholicon of Kartli was proclaimed the head of the Georgian Church, ranking as the sixth patriarch in the world’s pentarchy.

The Georgian Church has always played an important role in strengthening the national consciousness of the people. But at the same time religious fanaticism has always been alien to it. The church is tolerant to other confessions, and this has been attested by its peaceful coexistence with Catholic, Judean, Armenian-Gregorian, German-Lutheran and Muslim congregations. However, Georgian church has remained faithful to the Orthodox traditions.

GEORGIAN LANGUAGE AND SCRIPT

Georgian (ქართული ენა, kartuli ena) is the official language of Georgia. The language belongs to the Iberian – Caucasian group and there are three: Georgian, Svan and Mengrelo – Laz dialects.

Georgian alphabet is one of the 14 existing alphabets in the world. It consists of 33 letters. The majority of scientists believe that it was derived from one of the Semitic alphabets around the 6th – 5th centuries BC. The alphabet has been modernized during the centuries, but never lost the original roots. A Georgian historian informs us that the script was created in the 3rd c. BC by Georgian King Parnavaz. The mosaic inscription in the Judean desert in Palestine is known as the oldest Georgian inscription ever found. It dates back to the 433 AD. Bolnisi Sioni Church, situated south of Tbilisi, also has one of the oldest (493 AD) inscriptions in Georgian. The oldest manuscript (864 AD) is kept in St. Catherine’s Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula.

Georgian literature has an ancient and remarkable history. The oldest known literary work “The Martirdom of Shushanik” was written in 476 – 483 AD by Iakob Tsurtaveli.

“The Knight in the Panther Skin” created by Shota Rustaveli at the end of the 12th century is the most brilliant literary work in Georgian literature. The poem has been translated into different languages all around the world.

GEORGIAN LETTERS

Georgian is the primary language of about 3.9 million people in Georgia, (83 percent of the population), and of another 500,000 Georgians abroad (chiefly in Turkey, Iran, Russia, USA and Europe). It is a literary language for all ethnographic groups of Georgian people, especially those who speak other South Caucasian or Kartvelian languages, (Svans, Megrelians, and the Laz).

Gruzinic, or ‘Kivruli’, sometimes considered to be a separate Jewish language, is spoken by an additional 20,000 people in Georgia and 65,000 elsewhere (primarily 60,000 in Israel).

GEORGIAN ALPHABET

The Georgian alphabet

I: Asomtavruli (“capital”) or Mrgvlovani (“rounded”): oldest alphabet
II: Nuskhuri (“minuscule”) or Kutkhovani (“squared”), also Khutsuri (“church script”): mainly miniscules for Asomtavruli
III: Mkhedruli (“secular” or “military writing””): the modern alphabet
IV: names of the letters
V: numeric values of the letters
VI: Latin transcription

Note: Some letters (lavender rows in the table above) have become obsolete.

DIALECTS
The dialects of Georgian include Imeretian, Racha-Lechkhumian, Gurian, Ajarian, Imerkhevian (in Turkey), Kartlian, Kakhetian, Ingilo (in Azerbaijan), Tush, Khevsur, Mokhevian, Pshavian, Mtiuletian, Fereydan (in Iran), Meskhetian.

GEORGIAN SONGS AND PERFORMING ARTS

Georgian people have long been famous for their musical traditions. Folk-secular musical culture, which produced polyphonic music and turned composition into an independent branch, developed side by side with Church-music. Traditionally Georgian songs are sung in three-part harmony; however, in some regions the fourth voice may be included.

Singing is an important element of Georgian culture. There are songs linked with social and celebrating activities. There are work songs, traveling songs, lullabies, wedding songs, dance songs, and table songs. The Georgian folk singing tradition stands out in the world as a complex, unique, very profound and very ancient. Georgian folk music comprises different dialects, each of them representing 1, 2, 3, 4-part songs that can be divided into two main groups: West Georgian and East Georgian. East Georgian songs often have two solo upper parts and a lower part with flexible drone notes. West Georgian songs are characterized by a pronounced polyphony, which often has a complex melodic structure that disregards harmonic consonance. Stylistic traits such as ‘yodels’ (krimanchuli), unexpected key changes and dissonance may sound unfamiliar to Western ears.

The texts and the musical structure of traditional Georgian songs illuminate the specific thoughts and way-of-life of a people with more than two thousand years of history and culture. For example, traditional instrumentation consisting of a collectively sung bass line supporting one or two higher solo lines reflects a characteristic of a social model, existing between the individual and the group, where everyone is able to participate and no one remains as an unengaged listener.

City folklore is an integral part of Georgian folk music. There are two trends in it: the so called old Tbilisi songs, which are the mixture of Georgian folklore, the oriental tunes and another trend that developed under the influence of European music, performed by one, two or three singers to a guitar accompaniment. After Christianity was proclaimed in Georgia in the 4th century a new genre of church chorales developed and achieved great heights. Later the musical schools were founded (Gelati, Iqalto – in Georgia; Jerusalem, Atoni mount and Sina mount – in Syria; Petritsoni monastery in Bulgaria). Michael Modrekili (9th-10th cc.) collected the hymns of his time in a book where lyrics are accompanied by musical notes). 11th-12th cc. scholar Ioane Petritsi reports that Georgian songs and chorales were based on three parts, each of the party having its own definition in Georgian language which proves their Georgian origin.

The 19th-20th centuries are marked by a vigorous development of Georgian music. The new trends were introduced by M. Balanchivadze, D. Arakishvili, Z. Paliashvili, N. Sulkhanishvili, and V. Dolidze. Georgian music is enriched with the achievements of European music but has never been cut from its national roots. It has retained its unique characteristic features until present.

Georgian dancing is world-famous, distinguished with its aristocratic restraint and steadiness: a man is a knight; a woman is as delicate and gracious as a fairy. Each dance portrays the life of the region in which it has originated, and thus is diverse and unique. The mountain dances, such as Khevsuruli, Kazbeguri, or Mtiuluri, are sharply different from some valley dances – e.g. Acharuli and Davluri. The costumes are different for every dance and resemble the clothing of the past in different regions of Georgia. The costumes worn today in Georgian dances have been designed and perfected by Simon Virsaladze. Furthermore, the choreographic structure of many dances has been modified to fit the stage performance.

Very often Georgian folk singing and dancing performances are available in Tbilisi Concert Hall and other cities of Georgia. CDs and cassettes of Georgian songs can be purchased at music shops in Tbilisi.

Georgian cuisine refers to the cooking styles and dishes with origins in the nation of Georgia and prepared by Georgian people around the world. The Georgian cuisine is specific to the country, but also contains some influences from the Middle Eastern and European culinary traditions. The cuisine offers a variety of dishes with various herbs and spices. Each historical province of Georgia has its own distinct culinary tradition, such as Megrelian, Kakhetian, and Imeretian cuisines. In addition to various meat dishes, Georgian cuisine also offers a variety of vegetarian meals.

Georgian cuisine uses well familiar products but due to varying proportions of its obligatory ingredients such as walnut, aromatic herbs, garlic, vinegar, red pepper, pomegranate grains, barberries and other spices combined with the traditional secrets of the chef ‘s art the common products do acquire a special taste and aroma, which make Georgian cuisine very popular and unique.

Georgian national cuisine is notable for an abundance of all possible kinds of meat, fish and vegetable hors d’oeuvres, various sorts of cheese, pickles and pungent seasonings, the only ones of their kind.

A guest invited to the Georgian table is first of all offered to eat the golden-brown khachapuri which is a thin pie filled with mildly salted cheese; then he is asked to trylobio (kidney bean) (ripened of fresh green beans) which nearly in every family is cooked according to its own recipes; stewed chicken in a garlic sauce; small river fish ‘tsotskhali’ cooked when it is still still alive; sheat-fish in vinegar with finely chopped fennel; lori, a sort of ham; muzhuzhi, boiled and soaked in vinegar pig’s legs; cheese ‘sulguni’ roasted in butter, pickled aubergines and green tomatoes which are filled with the walnut paste seasoned with

vinegar, pomegranate grains and aromatic herbs; the vegetable dish ‘pkhali’ made of finely chopped beet leaves or of spinach mixed with the walnut paste, pomegranate grains and various spices. In East Georgia you will be offered wheaten b

read baked on the walls of ‘tone’, which is a large cylinder-like clay oven, resembling a jar, while in West Georgia you will be treated to hot maize scones (Mchadi) baked on clay frying-pans ‘ketsi’.

Lovers of soups will be delighted with the fiery rice and mutton soup ‘kharcho’, the tender chicken soup ‘chikhirtma’ with eggs whipped in vinegar and the transparent light meat broth flavoured with garlic, parsley and fennel.

Even the most experienced gourmand will not be able to resist the savory chizhi-pizhi, pieces of liver and spleen roasted in butter and whipped eggs; crisp chicken ‘tabaka’ served with the pungent sour sauce ‘satsivi. The famous dishes include the melting-in-the-mouth sturgeon on a spit and sauce; the chicken sauce ‘chakhokhbili’ in a hot tomato and dressing; the Kakhetian dish ‘chakapuli’ made of young lamb in a slightly sour juice of damson, herds and onion; roasted small sausages ‘kupati’ stuffed with finely chopped pork, beef and mutton mixed with red pepper and barberries.

Everyone in Georgia is fond of ‘Khashi’, a broth cooked from beef entrails (legs, stomach, udder, pieces of head, bones) and lavishly seasoned with garlic. There exists quite a just opinion that ‘the onion soup in Paris and the khashi soup in Tbilisi serve the same purpose. They are eaten by the same people – by hard workers to become stronger and by revelers to cure a hangover’. Remem

ber E. Evtushenko’s lines: “Everyone who saws, transports, builds, sweeps the neighboring streets, makes shoes, digs ditches eats khashi in the morning”.

Admirers of Khinkali– a sort of strongly peppered mutton dumplings, a favorite dish with the mountain dwellers of Georgia – keep growing in number. Like everywhere in the Caucasus, mcvadi (shashlik) is very popular in Georgia. Depending on a season, it is made of pork, mutton or spits aubergines stuffed with fat of tail and tomatoes.

The splendor of Georgia cuisine is backed up by famous white and red dry wines, among which anyone choose wine to one’s own taste: ‘Mukhuzani’ with a pleasant bitter taste, golden cool ‘Tetra’ light straw-colored ‘Tsinandali’ with a crystal sourish touch, dark amber-c

olored slightly astringent ‘Teliani’, ruby-colored ‘Ojaleshi’with a mildly sweet, emerald-like sparkling ‘Manavi’, garnet-red honey-tasting ‘Kindzmarauli’, and dark ruby-colored velvety ‘Mchadi’, light-green ‘Gurjaani’ dark golden fruity ‘Tibaani’ and many others. If to Georgian wines you add best-brand cognacs, champagne, not to mention remarkable mineral waters and fruit drinks, you can fancy what pleasure Georgian cuisine will to you.

The importance of both food and drink to Georgian culture is best observed during a feast, or supra, when a huge assortment of dishes is prepared, always accompanied by large amounts of wine, and dinner can last for hours. The Georgian table is conducted in a wise manner in accordance with the ancient ritual. The head of the table ‘tamada’ is elected as proposed by the host. The tamada must be a man of humor with ability for improvisation and a philosopher’s wisdom. If there are many guests at the table he appoints assistants who in Georgian are called ‘tolumbashis’. The tamada’s toasts follow one another in a strict never violated order. The guest is obliged to listen attentively to each toast and app

reciate the beauty of style and the purport of the words said. If is not allowed to interrupt the tamada when he is saying the toasts. The tamada’s assistants and other guests may only add something to the toast or develop its ideas. If you wish to say a toast, you must by all means have the tamada’s consent or else you will find yourself in an awkward position. This table ritual does not put restraints on the guests but maintains discipline at the table. The feast proceeds among jokes and is accompanied by a dance competition, table songs and music, quotations and aphorisms from the works of poets and writers.